Hello and welcome to my blog. It is a blog about an Air Force Physician that was reluctantly deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan for 6 months.

I have to admit, I did not exactly volunteer for the deployment, and I was a little anxious about how it would all turn out. I ended up making the best of it, and surprisingly, I actually had a pleasant, life changing, experience.

I decided to keep the blog up and running because I kept on hearing, "Why is it that you only hear the bad news coming from Iraq and Afghanistan." I figured that I was helping spread a positive message about what we are doing over. Even more important, I wanted to continue to spread the word about the plight of the Afghan people, 99.9% of which are the most incredibly friendly people that you will ever meet. The title picture is a great example of that. I have never encountered such genuinely warm and friendly people. It was so strange to see so many people with so little material objects, yet at the same time, filled with so much of the joy that comes with close family ties, abundant friends, and a close knit community. We could definetly learn a lot from them.

You may notice, as you read the blog in its entirety, my arc. I shift from focusing on myself and my personal comforts, to shifting my focus on the Afghan cause. It is very easy to get distracted by the hustle of daily life and the comforts that the U.S. provides. It is really a challenge to awake from that coma and to start to care and think about the welfare of other people unrelated to you. I think it really took me about 4 or 5 months before I really opened my eyes and became personally affected by what I was experiencing. I hope I was able to recreate it.

I have tried to keep the blog squeaky clean so as to not offend anyone (or get me in trouble-I am still in the military). Even though I am a political junky with very strong personal opinions I have been steadfast in keeping this site free of any politics. I was called to do a job and I tried to do it to the best of my ability regardless of my political stance.

I recreated the blog to read more like a book, or should I say blook (get used to the corniness it only gets worse from here) just to make it an easier read. I have removed some names and pictures just to keep it more anonymous. I hope that it helps in making it less about me and more about the cause.

Lastly, in the spirit of the blog, I decided to include the Chipin Widget that I used to raise money for Nazia. If I get any additional money I will send the funds to The Women of Hope Project and someone over in Kabul will discretely give it to her (unless I hear otherwise). You can also contribute directly to the Women of Hope Project website. They are a wonderful cause. If you enjoy this blog then feel free to contribute. I am sure that once you read her story you will be very moved.

So kick back. Get ready to hopefully laugh and definitely cry.
If you like what you read then post a comment. I will be continuously editing this site in an attempt to improve it. Who knows maybe one day it will become a book!

Enjoy. Thanks for reading.


Today Show Clip

Chipin Widget

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rusty Chai

"Confusion is always the most honest response."
Marty Indik

"If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius."
-Larry Leissner

We passed by a KFC today. Take a look.

When I arrived at the hospital I was offered Chai. I had always been curious how it was prepared so I decided to watch.

I politely declined the chai. Then I declined some more. And some more. They thought that it was because the glass was dirty so they cleaned the glass. I declined again. Finally, I caved. I said, "What the heck, poor me some chai." I probably am a little anemic anyways. I could use the extra iron.

I did a lot of emergency training today. I brought along a CPR mannequin and we practiced CPR and advanced cardiac life support algorithms. It is a little challenging because they do not have ventilators in the facility so if they end up having to insert a breathing tube there will be no way to maintain it.

I went up to OB to do some mentoring. The OB doctor was with a patient and she asked me if I could come in and help out. I am not sure if it is because there is a language barrier, but every time I try and get a basic patient history it reminds me of the old Who's On First Abbott and Costello routine. It is almost comical how I get absolutely nowhere. I am absolutely stumped because I can not give any good recommendations. Here is how the encounter went. I will try and recreate it for you. Keep in mind the patient wore a burqa so I do not know what she looks like at all and all of the dialogue is through an interpreter.

OB: "OK, Doctor, this patient is infertile. She would like to get pregnant. She had a pelvic infection in the past and her husband has a low sperm count."
Me: "How old is she?"
OB: "35."
Me: "Does she have any children?"
OB: "She has 2 children."
Me: "So then she is not infertile. How long has she been trying to get pregnant?
OB: "Five years."
Me: "Well, if her husband has a low sperm count then that is probably the reason. There is not much that we can do about it."
OB: "He has been getting injections of testosterone."
Me: "Does he have low testosterone level?"
OB: "Why does it matter?"
Me: "Well, you should only get injections of testosterone if you are low in testosterone."
OB: "Should I give her a shot of antibiotics?"
Me: "Why would you give her a shot of antibiotics?"
OB: "Because she had a history of an infection?"
Me: "Is she having any symptoms?"
OB: "No."
Me: "Then why would you give her antibiotics?"
OB: "Do you have a scale?"
Me: "Why do you need a scale?"
OB: "You told me that you would bring me a scale."
Me: "But we are talking about your patient right now."
OB: "What about Vitamin E?"
Me: "Why would you give Vitamin E? There are medications that can help with ovulation."
OB: "We do not have those medications."
Me: "Does she have regular periods?
Fast forward 5 minutes. We had a long discussion on what I meant by "regular periods."
Me: "Let me talk to the patient for a second. Now tell me why you have come to see the doctor today."
Patient: "5 years ago I had abdominal pain and I was told that I needed to have surgery. After the surgery I was told that I will never be able to have children again."
Me: "OB, that is very important detail that you failed to mention. Why did you not tell me that a surgeon said that she will never be able to get pregnant."
OB: "Oh, she is not sure."
Me: "She does not know if she had a hysterectomy or a tubal ligation?"
OB: "It was right after the Taliban fell and the doctor did not tell her very much. She had appendicitis."
Me: "Oh, so she had appendicitis. They did not tie her tubes or do a hysterectomy."
OB: "She is not sure. So what should we do? Should I give her a shot of antibiotics?"
Me: "Why would you give her a shot of antibiotics?"
OB: "Because she had a pelvic infection in the past."
Me: "But is she having any problems now?"
OB: "No."

And on and on it went. Keep in mind you can not do an exam, you can only do very limited blood work (nothing relating to her problem), and you can not reliably do an ultrasound. Of course, in Afghanistan there is no in vitro fertilization. You can almost understand the OB doctor's frustration. She wants to give her something. If the patient walks out without any treatment then she will be dissatisfied with her care. I left leaving that problem unsolved.
I have a theory that people back home are trying to make me fat. Why else would they send me so much food. These cookies were made by a culinary class from The Art Institute of Colorado. My base also send me 2 big boxes of delicious nuts, tropical fruit, peanut butter, candy, etc. My wonderful day care provider even sent me a bunch of goodies. I share everything with my teammates and some Afghans. Everyone appreciates all of the gifts. The beef sticks and the cheese will be served at the New Years party.
Thanks for reading.